Ezra is THREE!

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Ezra Lee turned 3 yesterday. At 3 years old, he is the most energetic, most stubborn, most obstinate, and most adorable 3 year old I’ve ever known (yes, all at the same time!).

Ezra amazes me in so many ways. He is rambunctious, yet thoughtful. Hard-headed, yet tender-hearted. Mischievous, yet innocent. He moves constantly and does not slow down for a second until he’s asleep. He never stops talking. He says, “Mom” or “Dad” at least twice before he continues with his next thought.

This boy loves anything that moves–trains, cars, busses, airplanes, helicopters, excavators, bulldozers, tractors, dump trucks, garbage trucks, firetrucks, police cars, ambulances…I could go on and on. He’s in size 4T clothes and only wears BIG BOY UNDERWEAR NOW (though sometimes Mom misses the diapers).

If you explain anything to Ezra that he didn’t already know, he usually says, “tell me about that again,” after you’re done explaining it (he wanted to hear about Hurricane Harvey about 18 times before he was ready for a new topic). He loves anything that gives him a thrill– jumping off of high surfaces, spinning around till he’s dizzy, being flipped over…this kid’s going to love roller coasters. He loves Bible class. He loves his sister fiercely and is very proud of her. He thrives on praise, like any child, I guess. He loves his mama and says to me several times a day, “I want to love you” or a “I want to hold you” when he wants me to pick him up. He loves to read books, and considers it a grave consequence for disobedience if he gets his story time taken away at night. He could live solely off of chicken nuggets, “macky-macky and cheese,” pizza, and cheese dip (but how long could anyone actually live off of just that? Life is unfair).

His favorite games are the ones where you have to use your imagination and pretend you’re someone or something you’re not. He’s very into monsters, and his favorite movie right now is Monster’s Inc. (He’s going to be Sully for Halloween). He loves being outside.

His favorite Bible story is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He can quote Ephesians 6:1 (though his life-application of the verse is a little wanting at times). He is quick to forgive and never holds grudges. He is intensely passionate about everything he says and does. This makes for some pretty intense parenting challenges. Ben and I say all the time that if we can just harness that passion and point it in the right direction, this child can do incredible, courageous, God-honoring things with his life. I want him to look back on posts like these and know how much we prayed and strove for him to have a future that glorifies God and helps others go to heaven. Our little redhead is a blessing to us in so many ways. We thank God for his intelligence, his health, his passion, his heart. Can’t wait to see what year three holds for our little fireball!

To My Daughter, On Her First Birthday

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My darling Colleyanna,

This is your 12-month picture. You just turned a year old, and I truly can’t believe it. I feel like it was just a few weeks ago I was listening to your first cry. I was stunned as I touched your face by how perfect you were. And now, a year later, you’ve changed so much! 24 pounds, 2 teeth, a lot more blonde hair, eating solids, wearing size 4 diapers and sizes 18-24 months clothes, and saying that I word I LOVE to hear you say: “Mama.”


Let me tell you some of the things I have observed about you lately.


  • You love music. You stop what you’re doing and dance every time you hear it.
  • You are not a great sleeper. You are still waking up every 2-3 hours at night, and have since you were born. However….
  • When you’re awake, you’re the most pleasant, most contented baby I’ve ever known. You are just so happy to be alive, and you’re satisfied doing whatever it is we have planned and going wherever we go.
  • You are very affectionate. You love to cuddle and you lean in for hugs, even though you’re just a baby. Sometimes you press your face against mine when you’re happy in my arms and my heart becomes a puddle—it’s SO sweet.
  • You are friendly to almost everyone. You’re very much into waving and smiling at anyone who talks to you. You make friends wherever you go.
  • You love your brother wholeheartedly, and you think he’s just amazing. Nothing is more exciting or more entertaining to you than watching Ezra. Nobody can make you laugh like he can. You light up every time he walks in a room, and especially when he talks to you or plays with you.
  • You are extremely nosy. 🙂 You have to know what everyone is doing and talking about all the time. You watch everyone intently and it’s clear that you’re thinking through our every move and our every word. You’re an expert observer.
  • You love clothes. Every time you see an article of clothing, you pick it up and put it on your head. You also love going through Mommy’s make-up bag about more than any other activity.
  • You love baths. Your favorite thing is standing up and then crashing back down as hard as you can so you make a huge splash. This makes for a pretty messy bathroom floor, but you think it’s hilarious.
  • You love books, especially ones that have something you can touch and feel inside.
  • Your eyelashes are four miles long (maybe not QUITE that long, but close).
  • You hated cake and ice cream the first time you had it, but the second time around, you were much more open to the idea. You rejected it with a vengeance the first time, much to the disappointment of your birthday party guests. But don’t worry, we are laughing about it now. 🙂
  • Your brother calls you Kie-nananana. We think it’s cute so we call you that half the time, too. Sometimes I worry you won’t actually know your real name. 🙂
  • You already have a great sense of humor. One of my favorite sounds in the world is your laugh.


Now, when you’re older and you’re looking back on this sweet time of your life, there are some other things I want you to know:


  • Your parents had Bible time with you every single day. You love to pat the Bible, listen to us sing Bible songs, and you’re learning to pray. Every night you’re hearing the words, “True success is living your life and going to heaven.” We will continue this practice of family Bible time every day with you for as long as you’re in our home. We will teach you all that we can about the Bible and God while you’re in our home, but if you ever study your Bible and realize that we taught you something that contradicts the Bible, we want you to do what the Bible says, not what we say.
  • Except for when you were sick, you never missed a worship service or Bible class. When you grow up and leave home, we pray this will still be true.
  • Your parents love you fiercely. We think you’re absolutely perfect in every way. We act like fools all the time just to get a glimpse of that million-dollar smile. There’s nothing in the world we wouldn’t give to see you grow up to be happy and successful (for success definition, see above).
  • We want you to know that, while we think you’re gorgeous and perfect on the outside, what matters is what’s in your heart (Ephesians 3:3-4). If you love and obey God, we will always think you’re beautiful, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is not your friend.
  • You’ll probably go through a stage where you really don’t like me, but I hope we can always be close, as I am to my mother (who, incidentally, also loves you fiercely). I learn more from my mother than anyone else. I hope you are able to learn good things from me, too, one day.
  • Parenting you and your brother is the hardest, scariest, happiest, most inspiring thing that’s ever happened to us, and we thank God for the opportunity to raise a soul as beautiful and precious as you.

I love you to the moon and back,


The Half-Naked Preacher (and other stuff from a routine Sunday)

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So this past Sunday was just a routine Sunday. After a night of not sleeping due to a long, wiggly toddler in my bed (He had a nightmare) and a teething 8-month old who never misses a feeding, I got up early. I placed my coffee cup under the Keurig and our lunch in the crockpot. I turned it on high so it would be ready in 5 hours, and fixed breakfast for my son who has decided he doesn’t like his every morning breakfast (scrambled eggs) anymore. I got both kids in their seats with food in front of them and as it turns out, waffles aren’t Ezra’s thing either. I forced him to eat a few bites and put both kids in the bathtub. Fast-forward forty-five minutes and we were all in the car but both kids were crying and my make-up was only half-done.

We got to church and realized we were getting there later than we usually do, so I told Husband (the minister) to go ahead inside and I’d get both kids to their classes. I threw my diaper backpack on my back, got the baby out of her seat after fixing her headband she’d pulled down to her neck while pitching a fit, got the toddler out of his seat after running my fingers through his unruly hair and tying his shoes again, grabbed my Bible from the front seat, and we were off like a herd of turtles. “Did I put on deodorant this morning?,” I wondered as we scrambled toward the door. I think I did…? Doesn’t matter now.

After getting all of us to our respective classes in time, and picking up both kids from their classes afterward, we got to our pew in plenty of time to get situated before church began, which is fortunate since someone came in and told us we were sitting in their seat. The herd of turtles moved. After moving to a different seat, I realized I left the kids’ blankets in the car. The blankets are very important, as Sundays are very long days, with a two-hour service in the morning, then a quick lunch, then another afternoon service. If the kids fall asleep during the morning service, it makes for a much easier day for all of us. The blankets help them fall asleep. Thus, the blankets are necessary. I got both kids up to come with me to the car to get the blankets, but halfway up the aisle I realized I left my wallet, thus my keys, at home. I rushed back up to the front of the auditorium, where my husband was conversing with our elders, and interrupted to ask for the keys. He handed them over, and my crew went back up the aisle again to the car to retrieve blankets.

We got back and it was time for the service to begin. By the time the opening songs were sung, it was clear the baby was ready to be fed. I did my best to pacify her through communion so that I could participate, then left the toddler with a helpful Christian sister to go nurse the fussy baby. When I got back, the preacher (my husband) was halfway through his sermon and the toddler still wasn’t asleep. Instead, he’d decided today he was going to act like he’s never been taught how to behave, and that included kicking the pew loudly, spilling his snack, throwing a finger puppet across the room, and screaming when he got a spanking.

When services were over, I was visiting with members and visitors alike while trying to round up my crew to get us home to that crockpot soup before rushing back for the second service, when we realized we had some friends from out of state visiting our services, and they wanted to do lunch, about which we were delighted. Husband said, “They don’t know how to get there, so I’m gonna ride with them. See you there?” I told him we have to turn the crockpot off or the soup will burn, so he asked if I could run home to do that (we live 2 minutes away from the church building). So I picked up our pew mess, threw the backpack on my back, rounded up both kids, got us all the way to the car and realized, once again, I had no keys. So I called Husband, who sent someone to me from the other parking lot to bring me his keys. I then rushed home, turned off the crockpot, refilled the toddler’s juice cup so we wouldn’t have to buy a drink for him at the restaurant, grabbed two bibs, and jumped back in the car. At least, then, I had my wallet.

We had a great lunch with great friends, albeit rushed, since we had to get back by 1:30. We made it through the second service. My kids still weren’t asleep, but I told myself that’s okay because maybe we would all get a nap when we got home. The service came to a close and I took my kids upstairs to the nursery to play for a few minutes while my husband was in a meeting. And then I smelled it. I checked the baby’s diaper—she was wet so I went ahead and changed her. Then I checked the toddler. I put my finger in his diaper to open it and check it, but I didn’t even make it to the diaper before I realized something was wrong. Really, REALLY wrong. There was poop on his thigh. There was poop on his leg. There was poop on his Strasburg hand-embroidered outfit. There was poop on his white dress socks. There was poop on his dress shoes. It was everywhere. Everywhere, I tell you.

So I set the baby down and surrounded her with toys while desperately pleading with the toddler, “Don’t. Move.” I walked behind him and marched him carefully to the changing table, pulled him up on it while trying to get as little poop on me as possible, and realized I had nothing to put all the ruined clothes in, nor an outfit change. I grabbed my phone, still begging the toddler not to move, and called my husband, who I knew was in a meeting.

“Please come up here. I just need help.”

Husband valiantly rushed upstairs, found me a bag to put everything in, and rushed back to his meeting I had interrupted. I finished damage control of The Great Poopnado of 2017, stripped the toddler down to his shirt and new diaper. I was now carrying several bags, the fussy baby, and also helping the half-naked toddler down the steps. I found a member and asked her to keep an eye on the toddler for a second while I get the baby in the car. I ran outside and got her buckled in, ran back in to find the toddler, and by now he was not only my half-naked toddler, but my half-naked toddler on the stage of the auditorium, pretending to preach to half the congregation, still in the auditorium laughing. I told him it was time to go, he pitched a sleepy fit in front of everyone (“But I wanna pweach!”), I popped him one for pitching a fit, got him in the car with his sister, and finally, FINALLY got home and got the door unlocked with MY KEY and got us all in the house where we could finally commence poop laundry and naptime rituals.

Just a routine Sunday. That’s the part that makes life hard right now. The marathon kind of Sunday obstacle course is kind of routine. That kind of worship day isn’t abnormal…at all! My husband and I laugh about how Sundays are a marriage test for us. If we can survive Sundays, we can survive anything.

Sometimes I long for days when the only person I had to worry about getting ready was myself. Sometimes I just wish I could sit through a sermon, listen and take notes. Sometimes I wish I could sit through a meal, enjoy the way my food tastes, and participate in adult conversation without having to think about the MULTIPLE needs, messes, and noise levels of two tiny people. Sometimes I wish I could go to the bathroom or take a shower by myself, in peace.

We try to walk a few miles as a family two or three times a week. It’s kind of a hassle taking both kids, spraying everyone with bug spray, getting them buckled in the double stroller with juice and snacks, etc., etc.. But it’s quality family time, and it’s helping me finally lose the baby weight.

When we walk, we always pass a lot of other walkers, joggers, runners, and bikers, as it’s a public nature trail.

Something occurred to me as I smiled at the passersby on our walk that concluded that long Sunday.

You know the way someone looks when they’ve hiked several miles up the side of a mountain, finally get to the top and get their first look at that incredible view? Or the look two people who are in love get when they look out over the ocean during a sunset while holding hands? Or the look someone gets when they smell something wonderful that reminds them of home?

That’s how a lot of older people look when they look at my little family.

It’s not because there’s anything special or aesthetically appealing about us.

I think it’s because they remember. They remember the long days. They remember the stickiness, the noisiness, the endless chatter, the questions times infinity, the teething, the whining, the diapers, the messes, the stroller, the feedings, the exhaustion, the check-ups, the mountains of laundry—all of it. And for many of them, if they could go back and do it all again, they would.

Someday, if the Lord allows us to keep on living, my husband and I will be empty-nesters. Someday it will be us looking over at the other table in the restaurant—the one with the young family. Someday we’ll be the ones walking by the double stroller and remembering a different chapter.

Will we look back and wish we had spent less time looking at our iphones and more time looking into the eyes of our kids?

Will we wish we had done fewer quick answers and more patient listening?

Will we wish we had talked more about God and the Bible?

Will we wish we cared less about clean hair and clean teeth and more about clean hearts?

Will we wish we had laughed more and stressed less?

Will we wish we had stopped pining for the next thing (potty training completed, bigger house, sleeping through the night, etc) instead of just enjoying where we are in the journey?

Will we wish we had been a little less OCD about the EPA kind of “safety” and a little more about the ultimate salvation?

Will we wish we’d let de-cluttering the living room take a back seat to de-cluttering the life?

Will we wish we’d taught our kids to be less about acquiring and more about inquiring?

Will we wish we’d been less about sports and more about souls?

Will we wish we’d made more time for dinner table conversation, long walks and Saturday morning snuggles?

Will we look back and wish we could have known how fast the years between the delivery room and the dorm room really do escape us?

Will we just look back and wish?…Or will we look back and praise?

It was a long Sunday. But we only get a few Sundays with our children—roughly 936 each. About 150 of those have already elapsed with my toddler. I want to make the most of them. So if you noticed I’m not blogging as much these days, that’s why. My goal is to start blogging more, but if it doesn’t happen, it’s because I don’t want to miss a thing. 🙂

One day I’m going to be looking back on this frenzied, hectic, stressful, wonderful time. I know one day I’ll kick myself for getting worked up over the million little unknowns when the most important question is this—Was my family truly successful?

It was that question that ended Sunday’s chaos:

“Ezra, what is true success?”

“Living your life and going to heaven.”

If I can put them on that path, and teach them to love it enough to stay on it even when it leads them away from my home one day, all the stress, worry, sleeplessness, messiness, stickiness and noise will be 100% worth it…and more.

So soldier on, young mothers. Enjoy this particular page of this particular chapter. Because one day you will have turned the page.

Let this be your reminder every morning, as it is mine:

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

And please don’t forget…

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…” (Ephesians 5:15-16)